The Gloucester Advocate may have been in recess during the height of the COVID restrictions but not all activities in the region ceased, including the construction of the new Barrington Bridge.
Public access to the bridge, using only one lane, opened in February with plans for both lanes to be open in late June, but the project finished ahead of schedule due to favourable weather conditions. Both lanes opened fully in late May with very little fan fare due to the restrictions.
It replaces the 100-year-old original Barrington Bridge on the Thunderbolts Way, serving as an important freight and tourist link between the Mid North Coast and the New England Tablelands.
Minister for Regional Roads and Transport, Paul Toole said it's great news for the community, who now have a wider and safer bridge that meets their traffic needs.
"The old bridge was built in 1920, and through our Timber Truss Bridge Conservation Strategy, we have delivered a project that balances up-to-date infrastructure with heritage conservation," Mr Toole said.
This project has been on the cards since 2015, but when it finally got traction in 2018 there was community concern over the fate of the original bridge.
Outlined in a RMS New Barrington Bridge document released in March 2018, the original bridge was identified as requiring removal in the conservation strategy and was removed from the RMS Heritage and Conservation Register as a pre-cursor to a separate proposal to remove the bridge once it closed.
The idea of the existing bridge being removed upset Gloucester resident, Bob Teoh who believes the original bridge should be kept for its historical significance.
"Let the RMS plan for a new bridge go ahead," he stated in a letter to the Gloucester Advocate in mid-2018. "But there is no need to get rid of the existing bridge."
In a press release issued by Transport for NSW inline with the opening of the new bridge, it stated that the original bridge will be removed under the recommendations in the Timber Truss Bridge Conservation Strategy.
"A Review of Environmental factors for the removal of the bridge is currently being prepared and will be placed on display for community comment," the press release stated. "The community will be kept informed as the project progresses."
An official bridge opening is due to be planned in the future.